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Texas High School Football: Alice returns to field with chance at postseason

Rey Castillo
Alice Echo News Journal

ALICE –– When Alice quarterback Jacob Guzman steps on the football field against Tuloso-Midway on Friday, emotions will run high.

Guzman and the Coyotes will play their first game in three weeks after positive COVID-19 cases were confirmed at the high school on Oct. 21. 

But it won't be an ordinary game for Alice. The winner will secure fourth place in District 15-4A Division I.

For the Coyotes, it would be their second consecutive trip to the postseason. 

"It was all about getting to the next game and the next practice,” Guzman said. “The only thing we could do was wait and be patient until we could finally get back rolling.”

Alice (1-4, 1-3) has missed seven games because of COVID-19 in 2020. The team had to cancel four non-district contests, a scrimmage and forfeit two district games against No. 4 Calallen and No. 3 Calhoun. 

Guzman's approach is to remain positive for his underclassmen, coaches and the other seniors who have had their seasons interrupted by the pandemic. 

“For the most part, it’s been frustrating to not have the whole season like other teams,” Guzman said. “But there’s still teams forfeiting games because of COVID, and we’re still in a position to make the playoffs. It’s a blessing that we have an opportunity to make a run in the playoffs.”

Guzman has come a long way since moving to Alice in fourth grade. 

Growing up in Benavides, he became a student of the game in football and baseball. 

Guzman, a UTRGV commit in baseball, admitted being on the diamond is his favorite part of the year.

But when it comes to football season, Guzman leaves everything on the field. 

His passion for the game comes from his father, who played quarterback at Benavides and La Grange. 

Guzman played quarterback as a freshman at Alice, but transitioned to a slot receiver his sophomore and junior seasons. Now as a senior, he's back where he started and ready to lead the Coyotes to the postseason. 

"My dad always tells me that he never had the talent I did and if I was to work hard, I could be 10 times better than he was,” Guzman said. “He’s always preached for me to work hard. He’s worked with me in baseball and football since I was young.”

Guzman reunited with his coaches and teammates on Saturday and the Coyotes hit the ground running.

Alice head coach Kyle Atwood confirmed Tuesday that there have been zero positive COVID-19 cases within the football program.

"I think it really affects us but like we told the kids, there’s nothing we can do at this point," Atwood said of the two forfeits. "We have to keep on keeping on, and hopefully we play well enough against T-M. We’ll keep our finger crossed that this situation doesn’t come up again in Alice."

The Coyotes last complete game came Oct. 16 and the end result was a 28-14 win over Beeville.

Tuloso-Midway (4-5, 1-4) is coming off a 44-6 loss to Miller. 

“We’ve been trying to get out here to practice every opportunity we can," said Alice running back RJ Salaiz. "We’re taking full advantage of it to prepare for this game. This is possibly my last year playing football ever again so we’re trying to make it last while we’re here.”

Calallen and Calhoun are playing for first place Friday and Miller is locked in third place.

The winner of Friday's game between Alice and T-M can begin preparations for a bi-district game against the first place team of District 16-4A Division I. 

“I think when we look back on this, you have to tip your hat to the kids and their parents,” Atwood said. “There has been a lot of adversity thrown their way and they've all handled it well."